Downtown Greensboro business owners call on Congress for financial support

Triad Business Journal
October 1, 2020

By Trajan Warren

Several downtown Greensboro business owners gathered Thursday to call on Congress to pass another stimulus bill to help struggling small businesses.

The event, held at Natty Greene’s Downtown at 345 S. Elm St., was organized by Tracy Furman, executive director of Triad Local First, and Frank Knapp, co-chair of the Small Business for America’s Future organization. 

While the CARES Act was signed into law 159 days ago, Furman said there needs to be “action now” because businesses cannot not wait for the next Congress to approve more relief.

Furman said the Greensboro business community is close-knit group that helps one another, but the community itself can only do so much.

“This is not time for games. Our small businesses need financial support to get through this. What we hope is the beginning of the end of this health and economic crisis,” Furman said.

Small businesses need priority assistance with rent and loan payments, as well as other capital expenses, Furman said. Businesses also need unemployment benefits to support those out of work as a result of businesses being closed.

“In the beginning they were saying 80% of small businesses were going to close — that’s exactly what’ll happen,” Furman said. “This needs to be handled, this needs to be taken care of.”

Gerry McCants, founder of Black Pages USA, said Guilford County has received about $94 million in grants from the federal government, $20 million of which was reserved for small businesses and nonprofits. North Carolina has also recently announced $12 million in support for Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB).

But according to McCants, that amount of money will not make much of a positive impact for businesses.

McCants said if there isn’t more relief or support for businesses, uncertainty will set in.

“People need to be assured that there’s going to be some funding so they can do their planning and be prepared to get through the end of the year and the first part of 2021,” McCants said. “There’s no real assurance that that’s going to happen.”

Alex Amoroso, owner of Cheesecakes by Alex at 315 S. Elm St., said the point of previous funding passed by Congress was to not have a rash of businesses have to close their doors.

“Now we’re looking at going into a winter where things are going to slow down, outdoor seating is going to slow down and the virus isn’t,” Amoroso said. “It’s important that we get the support that we need to continue to get to the end of this.”

Among the other business owners who attended the event were Amy Schwartz with Schwartz Travel, Claudia Murphy and Beth Hanlin with Imagine Travel, Dario Scimone with Fire Salon, Steve Mitchell with Scuppernong Books and Chris Lester with Natty Greene’s.

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